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Peyton Manning Neck Surgery Injury Dr RiazBy Jaboner Jackson 8 am | I’ve reviewed Peyton Manning’s neck injury and surgery with our team medical expert, Hassan A. Riaz, MD, MBA, twice already over the past two months.  Dr. Riaz was pessimistic in both of our discussions.  The Colts confirmed this weekend that Manning has been soliciting additional medical opinions regarding his neck injury and that he will not play in Week 1.  Reports out of Indy have suggested that Manning will miss the first few weeks at least, which is consistent with what Dr. Riaz said a couple of weeks ago.  I caught up with Dr. Riaz over the phone to hash out the latest developments.  As always, Dr. Riaz is not treating the player being discussed and is relying upon publically available information to form his opinions.

What’s wrong with Peyton Manning?

Peyton had neck surgery this offseason for presumed degeneration of his cervical spine.  This was his second spinal surgery.  By all accounts, his progression thereafter has been stunted.  Manning likely has the cervical bones of his neck pushing against the spine and nerve roots.

What kind of symptoms would Manning be experiencing if he had degeneration?

It’s same to assume that Manning has numbness and loss of strength in in his hands and arms.  Manning was cleared to practice about a week ago.  As I previously mentioned, he was symptom free at rest.  But during vigorous physical activity, his symptoms returned.  The most concerning aspect of Manning’s health is the probability that he has weakness in his arms.  If he has diminished strength from his healthy baseline, he is unlikely to recover any time soon, if at all.  It’s important to remember that the nerves of the cervical spine provide sensation and strength to the hands and arms.

How serious is this, Doc?

Very much so.  Let me put it this was: if Manning were a bricklayer and applied for permanent disability through Social Security, he would ultimately get permanent disability because of the fact that he has already had two cervical surgeries to correct issues with pain and neurological deficiencies and has to use his hands to make a living.

A couple of months ago, you were hesitant about signing Manning to a long-term contract for this reason.  Will Manning be able to return this season?

It’s impossible to know at this point.  If he has continued weakness or tingling, he will not play this season.  Period.  Further injury can lead to more serious damage and even partial paralysis.  No spine specialist would clear a patient to play contact football if the patient continued to have neurological symptoms.

Persistent neurological symptoms need months to heal.  This mean we’re talking months before he comes back and not weeks.  And I would not be surprised if Manning missed the entire 2011 season.  A couple of weeks ago, Jim Irsay said that once Manning’s nerves regenerate properly, he’ll be ready to play.  Frankly, I’m not sure what Mr. Irsay was talking about.  Nerves do not regenerate.  Function may return gradually once pressure on the spine and nerve roots is relieved but it’s not guaranteed.  It was not as if Manning had a cut nerve that needed to regrow.  No, not at all.  Manning had and still does have pressure on his disc and nerve roots causing neurological symptoms.

By all accounts, Manning is a tireless worker, but this is not the kind of injury that can rehabbed away.  It truly is a wait and see kind of injury.  Like always, I’m crossing my fingers for Manning to make a full and speedy recovery.


Dr. Riaz is President of Mercy Medical Center outside of Long Beach, CA, where he is a practicing physician.  He went to medical school at Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California and did his postgraduate training at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.  You may contact him through the webmaster at

Comments (12) Trackbacks (0)
  1. I came across this site a few months ago thru google and actually read the first Peyton article and not bad it was pretty spot on.

  2. Welcome back, football. Season starts this week and my old lady and me are throwing a MNF game for the Raiders game. It’s been to long already.

    Where my peoples at?

  3. Seems more and more likely that Peyton will not be playing this year. Sad to see the streak end and more importantly sad to see the best competitor in the NFL off the field. Speedy recovery.

  4. manning had surgery today, looks like he’s out for the year. you guys were right. dropping him from my fantasy team now.

  5. He will never play football again. His condition is the same as his brothers. His spine is degenerating and there’s nothing that can be done, it’s genetic, not an injury.

  6. As someone who has had cervical operations(2)-for a herniated disc c-4,c-5-the numbness and lack of strength in my legs has persisted 12years.

  7. I was experiencing the extreme pain and numbness from my neck all the way down to my left hand. the only way i could get any relief from the pain or general comfort was to elevate my left arm over my head and use a whiffle ball bat to roll out the stress in my shoulder. i eventually went to the emergency room and was diagnosed with cervical stenosis. i quickly became an neurosurgery patient and was being fed a consistant diet of gabapentin and morphine. sept 09 2009 i had a multiple foraminotomy on the c5 c6. 2 1/2 yrs later i am still experiencing pain and left tricep atrophy and pain. now they want to do the same fusion surgery as peyton’s and i am seriously considering it. i know first hand how peyton feels and what he went through and i am only 41.

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